Thursday, August 16, 2012

How It All Began

     I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that each moment of our lives, each obstacle, each celebration, each victory, prepares us for the next challenge that life will throw our way. We may not always understand why we find ourselves where we are, but if we trust that that is where we are meant to be, and that God will help us navigate our way through any adversity, then we are unstoppable.
      About ten months ago, I received a nondescript envelope in the mail. Printed with the name of an institution I'd never heard of and with an address from New Mexico (a place I thought I had absolutely no desire to ever live), that envelope had all the makings of one that I would have picked up, glanced at, and immediately discarded. But if that were the case then, of course, you wouldn't be reading this now. So why did I open that particular envelope?
     Honestly, I have absolutely no idea. Really, not one. It was like my hands just did it, without reporting back to my brain. So there I was all of a sudden, staring blankly at a pamphlet labeled UWC- USA, embellished with a collage of photos depicting smiling students and a castle.
     Wait, what? A castle? No, you read that correctly. Well ok, now they had my attention and our adventure begins. The next two hours can only be described as a marathon searching session during which my mother and I read just about every single word published on the world wide web about a certain international education program. Which, you know, is saying a lot.
     And that's how I learned about United World College.
     I won't overwhelm you with two hours worth of information, if you desire such an undertaking, you're quite welcome to visit the UWC website. Basically, the UWC program is one that strives to unite students all over the world through education. It follows the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB), a rigorous, internationally recognized curriculum, and incorporates elements of sport, service, and wilderness into education. There are thirteen locations in all, located in the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Wales, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Swaziland, China, Singapore, India, and Venezuela. One must be accepted to attend and there is quite a lengthy application process, after which the student is assigned to one of these locations. All in all it's a really, really cool program. And right up my alley.
     You've already guessed I applied, because otherwise, again, you wouldn't be reading this. Here's the part where I have to trust the philosophy I outlined in that first paragraph. I wanted so badly to be assigned to Wales. Every time I prayed and every time 11:11 came around, I thought, "and please, please, please, let me be accepted to UWC Wales". Wale, no such luck (see what I did there? Wales ---> Wale/Well, get it...? Ok, never mind).
     I was accepted and assigned to UWC- USA, located in Montezuma. New Mexico. Yeah, you've never heard of it. It's in the middle of nowhere. I was a mess at youth group that night.
     "Jess! What's wrong?!"
     "I heard back from UWC."
     "Aww, honey, I'm so sorry. You didn't get in?"
     "No," (sniffles), "I did."
     *Confused expression*
     Yeah, no joke. But wait, that's not all, folks! Since that fateful April day, I've done some more research about the USA location, and I'm really excited. Each location has its own flavor, and the USA school has a strong focus on International Relations, the field in which I'd like to work. Life works itself out in interesting ways, and I'm really looking forward to attending such an amazing program. Two hundred students from all over the world will come together in one really amazing place (Or so I've heard, I haven't actually been there yet; but it really is in a castle, in the mountains, surrounded by forests, with hot springs on campus. Have I enticed you yet? :) I know, doesn't sound all that bad.) I'll be taught by amazing professors, have opportunities to learn new skills, and experience new adventures (including the New Mexican wilderness... I should probably mention now that I am NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, what you'd call an outdoorsy girl. I've never been camping, or hiking, and I'm terrified of snakes and spiders and other creepy crawly things.But it's a required element of the program.) It's going to be amazing.
     So, why am I telling you all this? The idea is to keep this blog as an account of all that happens this year. Many of you are probably friends and family from back home (Wichita, KS) who are curious about all that I've gotten myself into, though some of you may have just come across this blog randomly. Either way, I hope you'll forgive my lack of blogging experience and understand that I really just want to share my experience. Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll stick with me through this amazing adventure!
     I go to school in just three days (Aug. 19, 2012)- wish me luck!

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